Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Because he's evil. And he lies.

The antecedent of which will be fairly obvious, a few lines down — and which is obviously not meant to pertain to JLG. C'est-à-dire: I thought I'd ring in my birthday with a post about Godard (a figure little-discussed 'round these parts), with good reason, too: Andy Rector posted the following as a comment last night to my 12.31.08 entry here, and I didn't want to let it fall between the Blogspot cracks...

(But first, a re-post of the footage/scene referred to below, which took place during the shoot of Détective [Detective, 1985] ) —

Andy writes:

I'm not sure who Godard is talking to, whether it's Pierre Novion or Bruno Nuytten. Richard Brody says it's Nuytten but I can't trust a word in that book at face value without checking elsewhere. In fact, to show how wildly Brody distorts his material, here's what Brody "deduces" from the below dialogue (tirade, whatever you'd like to call it) — his "deduction" more exaggerated than any Godard has ever made in his public life (even Godard's total rejection of, for example, Resnais in 1970, had a logic at the time) — the point is BRODY IS SAYING THESE THINGS, NOT GODARD, AND THIS IS SYMPTOMATIC OF BRODY'S BOOK : "Godard had doubted whether Nuytten had read the script and understood the point of (Johnny) Hallyday's text, then went so far as to challenge whether Nuytten knew that the camera they were using, the Arriflex, had been invented in Germany to film German soldiers on the battlefield during the Second World War. In his wrathful exaggerations, Godard was in effect calling Nuytten's preference for an extra lightbulb an unwitting complicity in genocide."'

Now read what Godard said, speaking to the cinematographer (I've pulled this from a subtitled version I have) —

GODARD: You forget the cinema is people who invest their money, invest their ideas, their heart. Actors invest their body and sometimes their heart. I invest my heart. One has rarely seen technicians invest in the cinema. [Excuse me.] One has rarely seen technicians invent equipment. It wasn't a sound engineer who invented the Nagra. You didn't invent the Arriflex — you don't even know who invented it. Hitler invented the Arriflex, so battles could be filmed. That's why you have a light camera.


CINEMATOGRAPHER: This is not what they invented...

GODARD: NO, but the Arriflex was developed from it...

CINEMATOGRAPHER: I know the story...

GODARD: It was the military...

CINEMATOGRAPHER: I know the story...

GODARD: I regret that a cameraman or a camera operator never invented, the way a singer invents a song. There are many things like that. So when one is insulted, one knows what risks he's taking on the film; he doesn't have to take risks but he doesn't have to sulk either! There are enough unemployed in France.

CINEMATOGRAPHER: It's now been 5 weeks that we have a strange relationship with you...

GODARD: And I have a strange relationship with you. And you have a curious relationship with the sun.


Thus ends Andy's comment, although I've held back on Godard's next sentence, j'ai ralenti les phrases (quelle vitesse chez Godard), to stagger the savor:

GODARD: I'd rather spend an hour discussing an intonation.

In close: Godard's trailer for Détective — possibly the greatest bande-annonce of all time. (Although certainly a number of other Godard trailers, not to mention Kubrick's trailer for The Shining, collectively approach second-place.)



  1. Craig,
    Where did you and Andy get the rest of the conversation? Is there a longer clip of this floating around out there?

  2. Ted,
    Yes the clip of Godard on the set of DETECTIVE is much longer (even longer than I have transcribed here). It appears in the series "Cinéma, Cinémas" (Claude Ventura). This is also where the Fuller clip I have on my blog originates from. There's a huge boxset of this series now available


    The box looks fantastic, but I'm not altogether sure it has subtitles. Godard aside, many of the figures in the series are English speakers (Widmark, Siegel, Jimmy Stewart, Richard Brooks, Casavettes, Scorsese, Welles, etc etc etc).

  3. Oh, and it was Nuytten.

    In a review of CINÉMA CINÉMAS, "~here~, there's a footnote to the scene:

    " Dans une interview donnée à Objectif cinéma, Bruno Nuytten revient sur cet épisode et voici en partie ce qu'il en dit: 'Quand j'ai vu Godard faire un signe à ce type pour filmer une conversation problématique entre lui et moi basée sur la mauvaise foi, je me suis dit que j'étais tombé dans un piège. Voilà un moment de réel dangereux car hors contexte : on ne sait pas ce qui précéde, ce qui suit, et après on le voit à la télévision. L'équipe de "cinéma cinémas" s'en est emparé pour la première fois. Contexte : la leçon du maître à un pauvre crétin qui n'y comprend rien (le pauvre crétin c'était moi)'..."


    You win! Award!

  5. Hi Craig,

    Many thanks for translating the clip into english. I'd seen the 7 minute version on youtube and though I do not understand french, i could make that tension was in the air.

    Have a request, though not sure how much of an inconvenience it might be for you, but can you please translate the entire video of the conversation between Godard and the cinematographer?

    If you could, much appreciated! Thanks in advance.


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